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Concern as parents bully teachers

Parents have bombarded teachers with emails and threatening letters about their child's performance and stormed into classrooms uninvited, amid rising concern about the bullying of teachers.

One parent was placed on a good behaviour bond after pushing a teacher in the school grounds. In another case, a parent kicked in the door of a principal's office. Facebook has also increasingly replaced the school gate as the place for parents to discuss and gossip about staff.

But despite these cases, reported to the Independent Education Union, research shows that many school policies and procedures for dealing with staff bullying are often not well-known or effective.

An academic survey for the union looked at 25 Catholic primary and secondary schools across five dioceses in NSW and the ACT last May.

The academics found anti-bullying policies and procedures in the schools were not well understood and younger members of staff tended to accept bullying as a normal part of the culture.

''The schools seem to be the least prepared to deal with the problem of bullying of staff, with most of the structural elements required to address the problem simply missing,'' the survey concluded.

A 2012 book by the academics found more than 80 per cent of the teachers and school staff surveyed said they had been bullied by parents as well as by principals, executives, colleagues and students.

John Quessy, general secretary of the union, which represents independent and Catholic schools, said schools and parents usually had very good relations but in isolated cases parents had a ''department store'' mentality, meaning they felt they had certain rights as paying customers.

''We do not have an issue with parents, we have an issue with bullying,'' Mr Quessy said.

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